Former Republic of Ireland star Damien Duff was in the National papers recently with some interesting thoughts on schoolboy football. Duff was speaking about ‘pain in the arse arents,’ as he called them.
The Ireland legend has taken charge of the Shamrock Rovers Under 15s and is first move was to speak about setting up the team and training sessions and then the game on the weekend, and having to deal with ‘pain in the arse parents’. ‘My little Jimmy is this or that why is he’s not starting or you’re playing him in the wrong position.’ Duff again ‘parents shouting abuse at a referee or shouting at players to pass the ball to his/her son or daughter is of no help to any of the players. Young players must be allowed make mistakes, that’s how they learn. Coaches that run up and down the line shouting instructions to all 11 players are not helping the players they are only confusing them.’
I have covered schoolboy football all my life and I can tell you Damien it’s far worse at club level. In Waterford if you attend a Blues U-15, U-17 or U-19 game at the RSC you won’t see any of that because the parents know that themselves and the young lad would be shown the door. At club level though the behaviour of some adults who should know better is crazy. I attended a local Under 13B game recently and to see a man of pensionable age confront a coach from the opposite team was obscene. It almost came to blows over a throw-in.
At another game last season at Under 12 level I saw parent going nuts at a coach after his son was substituted. All-Ireland winning Galway football captain Ray Silke spoke recently of a parent attacking a referee with an umbrella over a goal which was conceded by her own son. Silke also spoke about a coach at a recent match who ‘was so far onto the pitch that the referee had to stop the game after the coach was hit by the ball near the half way line’. Now there are some top schoolboy coaches in Waterford who respect the young players and they are responsible for teaching the kids how to behave on and off the field of play, It is important that the adults attending set a good example to the youngsters because they will copy what they see and if that’s bad behaviour then they will copy that.
Sport is a beautiful thing, especially at under age level, It should be a thing of joy to watch young people express their talent. If they make mistakes then it is up to the coach to rectify those mistakes in training for the next game. The adults should by all means come along and praise and encourage your children but please leave out the abuse at referees and control your temper on the sideline. If you’re a coach of a schoolboy team then your job is to pass on information to help the young children become better players and better people. There is a call out there to make sport non competitive up to the Under 14 age group. At the moment in Waterford we play the Under 10 Leagues on small sided goals and pitches with roll on roll off subs and that seems to be working well. It might be time to take it all schoolboy levels it might just stop the madness on the sidelines.